Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over

by Linda Holmes

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Read with Jenna Book Club Pick as Featured on Today • “Everything a romantic comedy should be: witty, relatable, and a little complicated.”—People

A heartfelt debut about the unlikely relationship between a young woman who’s lost her husband and a major league pitcher who’s lost his game.


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.

A joyful, hilarious, and hope-filled debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over will have you cheering for the two most unlikely comebacks of the year—and will leave you wanting more from Linda Holmes.

Praise for Evvie Drake Starts Over

“A quirky, sweet, and splendid story of a woman coming into her own.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six

“Effortlessly enjoyable . . . [a] pitch-perfect . . . adult love story that is as romantic as it is real.”USA Today

“Charming, hopeful, and gently romantic . . . Evvie Drake is great company.”—Rainbow Rowell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

04/29/2019

Holmes’s debut charms, as a young widow and a former Major League pitcher learn to begin again. Evvie Drake has spent her whole life in Calcasset, Maine, and doesn’t feel as sad about her widowhood as she believe she should—possibly because she was packing up to leave her husband when she got the call about his deadly car accident. Then Dean Tenney, a former New York Yankees pitcher who has inexplicably lost his amazing pitching ability, comes to Maine to retreat from the media, and rents the apartment in Evvie’s house. Evvie and Dean grow closer, with the agreement that they not discuss her husband or his failed baseball trajectory. When Dean gets an opportunity to revamp his career with Evvie’s support, and she reveals some of the details of her difficult marriage to him, they develop trust and sparks ignite between them. But the future of their relationship depends on their ability to communicate and confide in one another. Believable, flawed characters are at the heart of this novel. At times deeply emotional yet sometimes extremely humorous, This is a satisfying crowd-pleaser. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (June)

From the Publisher

Holmes writes with an easy warmth about kind people who are trying their best but messing things up anyway. . . . A warm and lovely romance, perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell and Louise Miller.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Evvie Drake Starts Over is a heartwarming rom-com about loss, grief and second chances…. Despite the kernel of sadness rooted at the novel’s core, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a feel-good read that radiates warmth. Holmes nails the balance between romance and humor, with Evvie and Dean’s effortless and truly funny dialogue being a particular strength…. Uplifting and life-affirming, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a perfect choice for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Marian Keyes.”BookPage (starred review)

“The charm of Holmes’ novel comes not only from a genuine friendship between Evvie and Dean that develops into a sweet romance but also from watching amiable Evvie stumble through the process of finding herself in a realistic way. A warm and funny book that will utterly captivate fans of Abbi Waxman and Taylor Jenkins Reid.”Booklist (starred review)

“A smart romantic comedy . . . Evvie Drake Starts Over, ripe with amusing wit and charm, skillfully explores regret and longing, friendship, love and forgiveness and the challenges posed by reinvention. Strong characterizations and short, well-plotted scenes are filled with clever banter. . . . Readers will cheer for this richly drawn cast.”Shelf Awareness

“Holmes’s debut charms, as a young widow and a former Major League pitcher learn to begin again. . . . At times deeply emotional yet sometimes extremely humorous, this is a satisfying crowd-pleaser.”Publishers Weekly

“If you love well-written characters, quirky towns, and charming, hopeful love stories, this is the perfect book for your next summer read.”BookReporter

“Witty, fun, and utterly relatable debut novel from a very talented new author. Highly recommended if you're looking for a smart love story!”Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted

“I was utterly charmed—this book shows us that just because you’re broken doesn’t mean you can’t be put back together again. You’ll want to stay cozied up with these delightful, unique, and incredibly human characters long after you turn the last page.”—Doree Shafrir, author of Startup: A Novel and co-host of the Forever35 podcast

“A sweet and sincere grown-up love story . . . Fans of grounded romance will fall hard for Evvie Drake and Dean Tenney, two broken people who help each other mend. . . . Refreshing and real, with a huge heart. I loved it.”—Georgia Clark, author of The Regulars and The Bucket List

Evvie Drake Starts Over is a warm, witty, and wonderful romance about the art of creating second chances—or a whole second act. Linda Holmes’s moving, smartly written debut is so engaging, you’ll be tempted to wish Evvie could start over yet again, just for a sequel.”—Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, bestselling authors of The Royal We

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2019-03-04

A widow and a former baseball player try to start over after life throws them some surprises in Pop Culture Happy Hour podcaster Holmes' debut.

As far as everyone in her small town knows, Evvie Drake is a grieving widow. Her husband died in a car accident, and she's been living all alone in their big house, rarely venturing out except to get breakfast with her best friend, Andy. But what no one—not even Andy or Evvie's father—knows is that her husband was emotionally abusive, and she was planning to leave him on the night of his death. When Andy suggests that his old friend, former baseball player Dean Tenney, move in to the apartment attached to Evvie's house, she agrees. Much like Evvie, Dean's life hasn't turned out the way he wanted it to. After pitching for years, he's struggling with "the yips"—he's unable to pitch for reasons that neither he nor any professionals can figure out. Evvie and Dean are both mourning their old lives, for very different reasons, and the two of them quickly become friends—and then, slowly, something more than friends. Holmes writes with an easy warmth about kind people who are trying their best but messing things up anyway. Characters speak to each other with natural but hilarious dialogue, making their conversations a joy to read. Refreshingly, Evvie and Dean's relationship hurdles come about because they're adults with complex lives and baggage, not because of easily fixed miscommunications. Although their romance is often front and center, there are many other emotionally affecting storylines, chief among them the changing friendship between Andy and Evvie and Evvie's need to stand up to her family.

A warm and lovely romance, perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell and Louise Miller.


Library Journal

06/07/2019

DEBUT Thirty-three-year-old Evvie Drake has been living a fairly solitary life in the year since her husband died, rattling around their too-large house in the small Maine town where they both grew up, and working as a transcriber for clients around the country. So when a friend of a friend needs some time away, she's happy to rent him the apartment attached to her home. Dean Tenney is a professional baseball player, a pitcher who, one day in the middle of a game, stopped being able to pitch, a rare but not unheard of condition known as "the yips." Each character is living in a sort of limbo, struggling to adjust to fundamental shifts in their identities, and they gradually become friends, then something more. But both have unfinished business with their previous selves that they'll have to address before moving forward. Though one could make the case for this being a romance novel—and plenty of romance readers will enjoy it—there's a stronger focus on the characters' individual arcs than on them as a couple. VERDICT Holmes's (host, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour) debut is charming, funny, and warmhearted and will please fans of Jasmine Guillory and Maria Semple. [See Prepub Alert, 12/17/18.]—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525619246
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 342,490
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

Evvie lay awake on the floor in the dark. More specifically, on the floor of the empty little apartment that jutted awkwardly from the back of her house into the yard. She was there because, upstairs in her own bed, she’d had another dream where Tim was still alive.

Evvie’s Scandinavian grandmother had claimed that young women dream about the husbands they want, old women dream about the husbands they wanted, and only the luckiest women, for a moment in the middle, dream about the husbands they’ve got. But even accounting for the narrow ambitions this formulation allowed, Evvie’s dreams about Tim were not what her nana had in mind.

He was always angry at her for leaving. Do you see what happened? he would say, again and again. He’d felt so close this time that she’d dreamed his cinnamon-­gum breath and the little vein on his forehead, and she was afraid if she turned over and went back to sleep, he’d still be there. So she’d thrown off the blankets and made her way down to the first floor of the house that had always been too big and was much too big now. Descending the wide curved staircase still felt like transgressing, like sneaking down to the front desk of a hotel late at night to ask for extra towels. She’d stopped in the kitchen to put on a pot of water for tea, come directly into the apartment, and stretched out on her back to wait.

When they’d first bought the house—when he’d first bought the house—they’d planned to rent out the apartment. But they never got around to it, so Evvie had painted it her favorite shade of peacock blue and used it like a treehouse: KEEP OUT. It was still her favorite place in the house and would remain so, unless Tim’s ghost started haunting it just to say he’d noticed a few little bubbles in the paint, and it would really look better if she did it over.

Nice, she’d thought to herself when that thought first intruded. Welcome to Maine’s most ghoulish comedy club. Here is a little joke about how my husband’s ghost is kind of an asshole. And about how I am a monster.

It was a little after four in the morning. Flat on her back in her T-­shirt and boxers, she took rhythmic breaths, trying to slow the pounding in her temples and belly and wrists. The house felt empty of air and was totally silent except for the clock that had ticked out pick-­a-­pick-­a for thirty-­five years, first in her parents’ kitchen and now in hers. In the dark apartment, she felt so little of anything, except the prickle of the carpet on her skin, that it was like not being anywhere at all. It was like lying directly on top of the earth.

Evvie thought from time to time about moving in here. Someone else could have the house, that big kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs, the carved banister and the slick staircase where she’d once slipped and gotten a deep purple bruise on her hip. She could live here, stretched out on her back in the dark, thinking all her worst thoughts, eating peanut butter sandwiches and listening to the radio like the power was out forever.

The kettle whistled from the kitchen, so she stood and went to turn it off. She took down one of the two public-­radio fundraising mugs from the cabinet, leaving behind the one with the thin coat of dust on its upturned bottom. The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

Blowing ripples in her tea, Evvie went into the living room where there was somewhere to sit and curled up on the deep-­green love seat. There was a Sports Illustrated addressed to Tim sticking out of the pile of mail on the coffee table, and she paged through it by the wedge of light from the kitchen: the winding down of baseball season, the gearing up of football season, an update on a college gymnast who was quitting to be a doctor, and a profile of a Yankees pitcher who woke up one day and couldn’t pitch anymore. That last one was under a fat all-­caps headline: “HOW TO BECOME A HEAD CASE.” “Way ahead of you,” she muttered, and stuck the magazine at the bottom of the pile.

Customer Reviews